Kitchen Korner: Dill-ightful

I tried dill subzi only a few years ago, my father was not fond of it so it was never made at home.

After getting bored of the same green leafy vegetable varieties, I decided to try it and ended up enjoying its distinct tangy taste. Dill, known as sowa in Hindi and shepu in Marathi, has a strong flavour — that is why it is used as a herb in most parts of the world — think dill pickles. It’s also why you cannot have the strong-flavoured dill subzi too often. Dill belongs to the parsley, bay leaf and cumin herb family. Since we grow ample amounts, we can make it into a subzi. Dill is packed with nutrients and you should try using it in your cooking. If one bunch of dill seems too much, then use half. You can dry, freeze or simply share the remaining half.

3 main benefits of dill

  1. It is an excellent plant-based source of calcium and consuming healthy amounts of calcium is one of the best ways to strengthen bones and prevent bone loss.
  2. Because dill contains anti-bacterial properties, it can be used to fight off infections internally and externally. It has “bacteriostatic” or the ability to protect against bacteria overgrowth.
  3. Dill is anti-carcinogenic. The activity of dill’s oils make it a “chemoprotective” food that can help neutralise particular types of carcinogens, such as the benzopyrenes which can be found in cigarette smoke, charcoal grill smoke, and the smoke produced by the burning of garbage.

Dill Ambode (Pakoras of the South)

I put these in my toaster oven and sprinkled olive oil on top but you can deep-fry them if you like. If you are baking them, make the balls a bit flatter, rather than round for even cooking. When grinding the chana dal, do not grind too smoothly; you should be able to bite a chana or two.

1 medium Onion, chopped fine
1 cup Chana dal
1 tbsp Dill leaves, chopped
1 tbsp Rice flour
3 (or to taste) Green chilies
1 tsp Ghee
Salt to taste
Hing (asafoetida)… a pinch
Oil for sprinkling or deep frying


  1. Soak chana dal for 2 hrs. Drain and grind coarsely with the green chilies (with no water) and pour into a mixing bowl.
  2. Add the chopped dill leaves, onion, hing and salt to taste. Mix the rice flour with ghee and add to the mixture (this helps maintain the crisp texture). Mix well and make small balls.
  3. Heat oil. Once it is hot, flatten each of the balls and drop into the oil and fry until browned and crispy. Alternately to bake, make flatter balls, sprinkle oil on top of ambodes and bake for about 15 minutes on 180 degrees Celsius. Turn over and bake for 10 more minutes. This makes about 15-18 ambodes.

Lemon-Dill French Beans

This dressing goes with any salad, not just beans.

1/2 kg French beans
1 large Onion, thinly sliced
1 tbsp Minced dill
4 tsp Olive oil
1 tbsp Lemon juice
1 tbsp Mustard
Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Bring an inch of water to a boil in a large saucepan fitted with a steamer basket. Add green beans, cover and cook until tender-crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk dill, shallot, oil, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the beans and toss to coat.
  3. Let stand about 10 minutes before serving to blend flavours.

The Bridal Bible — Pune Mirror November 2014


Being fit is by far the most significant part of looking good. And if you’ve been feeling a little out of shape, it’s time to get it just right before D-day. “Make it a priority and begin at least six weeks before the wedding,” advises Rita Date, nutritionist and author of What’s for Lunch. At least 45 minutes of cardio for five days a week and weight training thrice a week is the key, she says.


The correct diet will not only see you healthy but will also help improve your looks greatly. Says Date: “Do not crash diet. A “diet” is not about short term — it should be a lifestyle. The food you eat affect not just your body but your mind, organs and more importantly for a bride, your skin.”

Date gives a lowdown on the do’s and don’ts of the wedding diet:

► Avoid processed food, alcohol, too much caffeine, maida and sugar before the wedding to ensure good skin and weight loss

► Eat a variety and lots of vegetables — they are high on fibre, help blood circulation, support the skin’s elasticity and give you the antioxidants you need.

► Eating out is a great way to pack on the pounds. Chaat, heavy gravies and desserts all help gain weight. If it’s unavoidable, choose wisely — roti and tandoor instead of butter paneer and naan for example. Plan your meals out in advance.

► In Pune, there is the custom of “kelvan”, where family and friends hold a dinner in the honour of your wedding. These heavy meals can also cause weight gain. Ask your family and friends to serve some healthy fare. Use portion control.

► While we can try and get as many sources of vitamins as possible from our diet, sometimes supplements may be required. Lack of vitamin B or iron can decrease your energy levels. Get checked for anaemia (iron), vitamin B-12 and vitamin D. If you are deficient, take supplements after consulting your doctor.

► Get plenty of sleep. Lack of sleep causes you to overeat, and overeat fatty foods. Manage stress — exercise, pranayama, or whatever makes you happy.

► Avoid bloating, especially when the big day gets closer. Eat slowly to reduce the amount of air that gets swallowed. Avoid soft drinks or any other fizzy drinks —including sweet lime soda and diet sodas. Fake sweeteners like sorbitol and aspartame are not easily digestible — bubbles equal gas.

► Salted lassies with jeera or ginger (made at home) are a good and you should have them everyday. They are rich in good bacteria, so they too can help you avoid bloating.

Bone of Contention — Published in Pune Mirror October 19, 2014

Early detection and care is the only way to combat osteoporosis.

A test conducted last year by a team of doctors on 150 police personnel on active duty in Pune revealed something alarming. Nearly 50 of them, both men and women, tested positive for osteopenia — an earlier stage of osteoporosis, a condition characterised by extremely weakened bones. Referred to as a silent killer, like diabetes, osteoporosis has taken on the proportions of an epidemic with nearly 50 per cent of the Indian
population, especially women, suffering from it.

“I get upto 10 cases every week,” says Dr Abhijit Joshi, a city-based orthopedic surgeon.

Osteoporosis involves the weakening of bones to the extent that the patient suffers from fractures even due to trivial falls, especially in the wrists, hip joint and vertebrae. While the condition can’t be prevented, it can be considerably delayed if detected at the osteopenia stage.

“It’s caused by hormonal imbalances, especially in menopausal women, though a large number of men suffer from it too. The onset of the condition can be kept at bay or at least delayed if a person exercises regularly and ensures sufficient intake of vitamin D and calcium from direct sources rather than in the form of supplements,” says Dr Murtaza Adeeb, a joint replacement and sports medicine surgeon based out of Pune.

What’s more, specifically in the urban population, osteoporosis tends to occur at a younger age to Indians compared to their western counterparts, and is manifest from the age of 50 upwards. With October 20 being marked as World Osteoporosis Day, there couldn’t be a better time to equip oneself against this silent killer.

Know the signs

While osteopenia, unfortunately, doesn’t manifest itself in symptoms, osteoporosis does have a few defining markers. “A general symptom is body aches and pains, especially in the shin bones, arms and the back,” says Adeeb.

The second sign — which is when your orthopedic asks you to take the DEXA scan or ultrasound bone density tests that detect osteoporosis — is a series of fractures within a short time or low-intensity fractures, caused by trivial falls that wouldn’t normally result in fractures.

Fight the enemy

Detecting the disease at an early stage, i.e. osteopenia, is very beneficial. “One should start testing for osteopenia from the age of 45. The earlier the detection, the better the chances of the condition being stalled,” says Joshi.

Regular exercise is an absolute must, say the doctors. Walking for at least 150 minutes a week along with weight training would help to strengthen bones. Obesity is a strict no-no.

“Combine strength-training exercises (weights/yoga) with weight-bearing exercises. Strength training helps strengthen muscles and bones in your arms and upper spine, and weight-bearing exercises — such as walking, jogging, stair climbing, skipping, and impact-producing sports — mainly affect the bones in your legs, hips
and lower spine,” advises nutritionist and food writer Rita Date.

Regulation of one’s diet is also very important. Vitamin D and calcium deficiency play a significant role in augmenting the condition. “There should be an intake of 500 mg to 1 g calcium every day. Many people take a supplement of 250 g under the misconception that it’s enough,” says Joshi. Vitamin D3 supplements are now available in the form of drops (for children) and granules — incidentally, it also helps to keep diabetes under control.

Stay away from steroids. “In India prescription of steroids is not regulated. A side effect of steroids is osteoporosis,” warns Adeeb.


Rita Date suggests the perfect diet to build strong bones

1 Get enough calcium. Pre-menopausal women need at least 1,000mg of calcium a day and post-menopausal women need 1,200 mg. The best sources of calcium are dairy products such as milk, dahi, buttermilk, paneer, and cheese. They should be the low fat variety (the malai should be taken off after boiling).

Quantity of calcium got from:

♦ 1 cup dahi – 450 mg
♦ 1 glass milk – 300 mg
♦ 1 glass buttermilk – 280 mg
♦ 100 g paneer – 200 mg
♦ 100 g cheese – 500 mg (app)
♦ Also, 100 g of canned sardines or salmon has 325 mg calcium

Some vegan sources:
♦ Sesame seeds – 50 g contains 500 mg
♦ Rajgira (amaranth): 1 cup contains 275 mg
♦ Tofu – 1/2 cup has 250 mg
♦ Liquid gud (molasses) – 1 tbs has 170 mg
♦ Almonds – 50 almonds contains 130 mg
♦ Soybeans – 1 cup has 175 mg
♦ Broccoli – 1 cup has 95 mg
♦ Black currant – 1 cup has 60 mg
♦ Fig – 1/2 cup has 120 mg
♦ Green leafy vegetables – amount varies
2 Vitamin D is required for your body to absorb calcium. Sunlight is the major source of Vitamin D. Although we have plenty of sunlight in India, we are still not getting enough since we tend to avoid the sun.Scientists are still researching the optimal daily dose of vitamin D. A good starting point for adults is 600 to 800 international units (IU) a day, through food or supplements. Teens and adults can safely take up to 4,000 international units (IU) a day. Oily fish such as mackerel, sardines and salmon are good sources of vitamin D.

Take calcium and vitamin D supplements if you are deficient. A doctor or dietician will recommend the right one.